The U.S. Survey of Income and Program Participation survey shows the LD prevalence rate among the U.S. population (ages 6 and older) to be 1.8%, totaling 4.67 million Americans.I've read various estimates, indicating anywhere from 17% to 30% of adults with autism spectrum disorders find regular employment. Unfortunately, "regular" employment is not always full-time and it is often far-below the normal employment position held by similarly educated individuals within the general population. ASDs and other cognitive differences result in lower life-time earnings, even among those with Asperger's Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism, or PDD-NOS who do complete high school and a two-year degree program. Within higher education, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported professors with ASDs are also less likely to be full-time tenure-track faculty.
There are major disconnects between high school and postsecondary education which create obstacles for students with LD.
- Males are much more likely to have acknowledged learning disabilities than females.
- The unemployment rate for those with LD was twice that of those without LD.
Only 46% of students with a LD found paid employment, full or part-time, within two years of leaving school.
- Often students with LD have lower aspirations regarding their own postsecondary education.
- Just under 11% of undergraduates reported having some type of disability.
A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.
I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…